A Single Windows 8 Keyboard Shortcut that Does Multiple Tasks

Keyboard shortcuts are essential for making Windows 8 easier to use. As described in a previous tip, the Windows key is part of many time-saving shortcuts. But there is also a different type of keyboard combination with a long history in Windows systems that is very useful. It is the versatile shortcut Alt+F4 and here are three different ways it can help make Windows 8 more efficient.

Close a Windows 8 full-screen app

Metro or modern apps on the Windows 8 Start screen take up the entire screen and have none of the menus found in desktop Windows programs. So there is no way to close them directly. You can switch out of them with the Windows key or other ways but they remain running in the background. If you want to close down an app completely, Alt+F4 does the trick.

Close a desktop program

If you are on the desktop, Alt+F4 will close the program that has the focus. This is the same shortcut that has been available in previous versions of Windows. 

Shut down Windows 8

With no Start button, shutting down Windows 8 takes several steps to open Settings-Power and then display the shutdown menu. If you are on the desktop, there is a quicker way. Click or tap an empty spot on the desktop to give it the focus. Then use Alt+F4 to open the shutdown menu shown in the figure. You can then select the desired action. This is also a carry-over from previous Windows versions.

If you are not already on the desktop, use the keyboard shortcut Winkey+D to get there quickly.

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This tips section is maintained by Vic Laurie. Vic runs several websites with Windows how-to's, guides, and tutorials, including a site for learning about Windows and the Internet and another with Windows 7 tips.

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by appyface on 7. May 2013 - 21:01  (107536)

Works on Win7 too. (And maybe XP, not sure.)

by baja463 on 7. May 2013 - 18:25  (107528)

I put an icon on my desktop called Shutdown with these props:

C:\Windows\System32\shutdown.exe -s -t 00

Click and you're down.

You can also do this for a Reboot:

C:\Windows\System32\shutdown.exe -r -t 00


by Rick Grunwald on 8. May 2013 - 16:26  (107567)

Good tip! Thanks

by v.laurie on 7. May 2013 - 20:14  (107532)

That has already been mentioned several times in previous tips, for example here; http://www.techsupportalert.com/content/three-tricks-make-windows-8-much...

by harryhill on 7. May 2013 - 15:29  (107526)

Don't forget: Win-Key/D. I teach: Disappear--it rings a bell.
Press again and all comes back.

by Nodrog on 6. May 2013 - 8:51  (107484)

You can close a "modern app" directly by swiping down from the top of the screen while in that app.

You can also close one that's running in the background by mousing to the top left and down to show icons for currently open apps, right click on it and click close.

by PBJ on 6. May 2013 - 3:45  (107477)

Yes, i early on found (out of need) Alt + F4 to be useful, but to shutdown you can also do Windows key + i, then hit Power. Or install the old tried+true poweroff.exe utility to your Desktop, then hit Proprieties, and make a shortcut key (like Ctrl+Alt+X). And install AutoHotKey for a lot more shortcuts.


#5::Run powercfg.cpl
#6::Run ncpa.cpl
#7::Run devmgmt.msc
#8::Run diskmgmt.msc
#9::Run eventvwr.msc
#+S::Run services.msc
#C::Run control.exe
#U::Run C:\Windows\System32\appwiz.cpl

There are lots more. You can just past the name at the end of the above in the Run command and hit Enter as well. Note that %windir% can take the place of C:\Windows and %USERPROFILE% can replace C:\User\user name

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